Once Upon a Time
– Throne of Eldraine
October 8, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’m not sure if I’m more surprised that it took twenty-six years to get an Arthurian/fairy tale set, or that this card made it through development. It has obvious and very strong uses as a combo card, letting you get two card selection effects in on the first turn if you so desire. It has some less blatant elements too, such as the ability to cast it for zero mana on your opponent’s turn if they went first, and thus give yourself an extra option on your own first turn. If you for some reason wait until a slightly later turn (like that Simic Flash deck sometimes does), it sets up proportionately more powerful plays, though you probably don’t want to wait too long just for the sake of that in a lot of matchups. It’s even surprisingly relevant late in the game, with flexibility and seeing a deceptively large number of cards making sure that you can always look for a response or a comeback. I suspect a lot of late-game plays are going to fall to Once Upon a Time into Frilled Mystic this Standard season.
Free spells are the best spells, and this is indeed a free spell if it’s the first one you cast in a game. Even if you’re not casting it for free, Once Upon a Time is still a decent way to dig deeper into your deck, a bit of a take on Commune with Nature and Grisly Salvage that can more reliably turn a questionable opening hand into a good one. It’s an awkward spell in that you’d like to have multiples to ensure that you can cast it for free, but it’s a fairly underwhelming card once you lose that ability.
Even still, it’s a pretty good spell! Digging 5 cards deeper is a solid deal for 2 mana (at instant speed, no less), and it can help green decks smooth out rough starts. I feel like this card will be played a lot in this upcoming Standard and will see play in non-rotating formats, since it does a good amount early and a passable amount late to justify its use.
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